Jimi Hendrix was born on November 27, 1942. He became internationally famous in 1967 with the album ‘Are You Experienced’. He was a very influential guitar player as well as a record producer who liked to experiment with different techniques that many musicians have tried to copy since. Accomplishing alot in a very short period of time, it has been said that he made music loud but also beautiful. However, he was also a heavy drinker, abused drugs, subsequently passing away of asphyxiation on September 18, 1970 at the young age of 28.
Jimmy Page was born in 1944 and started playing guitar when he was 14. Though taking a few lessons, for the most part he taught himself how to play. He started out as a session musician and then as a member of The Yardbirds in the late 1960s. He then started the band Led Zeppelin. Zeppelin’s sound was due in large part to Jimmy’s guitar playing, composing, producing and sound recording style. Jimmy’s influence on other musicians is noted by many artists such as Johnny Ramone and Eddie Van Halen.
Stevie Ray Vaughan, born October 3, 1954, was an American blues guitarist who played on electric guitars. He never learned to read music, but instead played only by ear, by feel, and with alot of emotion. Stevie Ray started playing clubs when he was 13, and then later, in the 1980’s, Vaughan and his band Double Trouble was discovered by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Later, SRV would struggle with alcohol and cocaine addiction, conquer his addictions, and then go on to work with numerous artists over his short career, which ended in a helicopter crash on August 27, 1990.
Eddie Van Halen was born on January 26, 1955. The band, Van Halen, was formed by Eddie and his brother Alex in 1972 and was signed in 1977 after Gene Simmons of Kiss fame caught one of their shows. Since the 70s, Van Halen has recorded and sold millions of albums. Eddie Van Halen himself is a distinctive guitar player whose famous performance in his solo on the song “Eruption” says it all.
Steve Vai was born on June 6, 1960. A passionate and very gifted guitar player, in 1974 he honed his guitar skills jamming with Joe Satriani. Vai then began his career with Frank Zappa in 1980, and then went on to a solo career, starting in 1984, and has since released thirteen albums to date. He has also played with the bands Whitesnake, Alcatraz and David Lee Roth.
Joe Satriani, born on July 15, 1956, was a guitar instructor and is widely respected as a guitar virtuoso. In 1988, Mick Jagger hired Satriani for Jagger’s solo tour and he then played lead guitar for Deep Purple in 1994. Further, he has also played with numerous guitarists such as Kirk Hammett, Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen, among others.
Jeff Beck was born on June 24, 1944. He is a widely acclaimed artist who pioneered many new techniques, adopting a number of guitar styles throughout his career such as jazz, metal and rock. He was a member of the band The Yardbirds in the 1960s, and then formed the Jeff Beck Group. Since then he has worked with many musicians and completed many projects encompassing a number of musical genres.
Tony Iommi, born on February 19, 1948, played his guitar left-handed due to an injury sustained in a work-related accident when he was 17. He is most famous for his career with Black Sabbath. Since his Black Sabbath days, he has recorded with others under the band name Heaven and Hell, and in 2000 and 2004 he released solo albums. Those who have started out playing heavy metal music today use many legendary styles invented by Iommi.
Slash, born on July 23, 1965 as Saul Hudson, was a member of the band Guns N’ Roses. Though the entire band was followed by controversy, Slash’s talent has always shown through. Slash then formed Slash’s Snakepit in the 90’s as a solo venture and then later joined the band Velvet Revolver with some of his former Guns N’ Roses band mates as well as Stone Temple Pilots front man Scott Weiland. Slash is as much in demand as a session musician. He has recorded music with people such as Stevie Wonder, Sammy Hagar and Alice Cooper among many others.
Jason Becker, born July 22, 1969, is a classical metal guitarist and composer who is not as widely known due to his medical history. However, his talent cannot be denied, and he is famous for his shred style guitar playing ability. He composed “Cacophony” with Marty Friedman and was produced by Mike Varney. The album “Speed Metal Symphony” was released in 1987 and another album was released in 1988. He also worked on a solo career in 1988 and then joined David Lee Roth’s band in 1990. Shortly thereafter Becker was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He is now unable to speak but his physical condition has been stable since 1997. Although he can no longer walk or play his beloved guitar, or even speak, he continues to compose with the aid of a computer.